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What does Kittitian heritage mean to you? Announcing culturesnaps.kn

After experiencing first-hand the diverse heritage and personal connections to different areas of St. Kitts, Habiba and I were left wondering if all this plethora of knowledge was going to be passed down to future generations? Through a lucky encounter, we were put in touch with Marlene Philips from the Department of Culture. The collaboration became evident. There was a need at the Department of Culture to build the local arts industries, as well as engage with communities on heritage and identity. Through this key partnership, we have worked for the past 9 months on developing and deploying a crowd sourcing website that we are extremely happy to announce is public: www.culturesnaps.kn.

First, a Little Bit About Crowd Sourcing:

Crowd sourcing is the technique of obtaining information from a large and diverse group of people in a non–centralized distributed manner. With the ideology of open source in mind, crowd sourcing offers free ideas, free exchange and free collaboration. What makes crowd sourcing interesting in the cultural heritage domain is that it challenges the perspective that culture heritage requires an expert opinion to define what heritage is. Leading to a new reality of user contributed information, crowd sourcing provides the platform for people to express their own heritage.

Culturesnaps.kn is a website for heritage, arts community and important places in St. Kitts. It collects public perceptions of heritage, serving as a tool for tourists and locals alike. We hope to see it promote discussion on community places of value as well as engage communities, academic and public institutions both regionally and internationally. Providing a visually pleasing and user friendly interface, the site displays geographical information pertaining to the crowd informed culture of St. Kitts. It contains geo-localized sites of importance – including archaeological, built, intangible heritage linked to performing, culinary, visual, and literary arts. The user can seek, as well as, disseminate information and his or her personal views regarding different heritage sites, foods, and festivals. Hence, everyone who lives or visits St. Kitts can be an active contributor to the perception of St. Kitt’s history and culture. This crowd sourcing website is hosted by the Department of IT in St. Kitts on the behalf of Department of Culture. The beauty of the website is that it provides anyone access to contribute to the discussion via an online form, twitter, email, mobile app and a possible SMS. This creates the possibility for discussion and free dissemination of knowledge. However, the website also has an administrative backend, providing the Department of Culture with the tools to manage effectively the content of the website.

The Succes of Crowd Sourcing:

The web platform and tool are only one part of the result. For a successful tool that is used and accessible, the creation is only the beginning. The crowd sourcing tool can only be successful if individuals use it. For us, data from the crowd sourcing tool can lead to research on;

How to rectify quality assurance and credibility with open sourced heritage data?

How to create and effective interface with a streamlined technical design?

How does the “crowd” contribute to cultural heritage and identity of a place?

It is for these reasons that community partners are once again so inherent and important in research and outreach. Working with both the Department of Culture and Department of Information Technology in St. Kitts, we hope to create an active crowd and a spirited discussion. Social media- via twitter, Facebook and other forms via radio, television can produce enough conversation to will fill the website with data.

What makes this website and tool so useful is that it allows for diverse collaborations, such as taping into local tourism markets or school projects. Habiba and I are excited about the future developments of culturesnaps.kn as we will continue to work with Marlene and Raheem from the St. Kitts Department of Culture. Finally, we look forward to further exploring open source and crowd-focused research, bridging a needed gap between communities and academia.

By Eloise Stancioff and Habiba

Based on Impact: a practical guide to evaluating community information, The Knight Foundation.

This effort would not have been possible without the collaboration of Marlene Philips, Raheem Thatcher from the Department of Culture and Ophelia Blanchard and Pierre Bowrin, from the Department of Information Technology.

Check it out: www.culturesnaps.kn


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